“Sacrifice” Is Not an Idle Word

11 06 2019

Wiesbaden; Bayeux, France

We’ve got a bit of ground to cover.

***

The 50th anniversary of D-Day was on June 6, 1994. That day was either the second-to-last or last day of finals for my junior year of high school, can’t remember which. That day, before my first final that day and also in the time between my first and second, one of my school’s English teachers set up a TV in his room so anyone who wanted to watch the ceremonies of the 50th could do so, and of course I did.

Aside from everything else that was running through my mind on Thursday, a day which had earlier that week been predicted to be all cloudy and rainy, but turned out to be partly sunny with no rain, thankfully, how heavy the day was from the standpoint of history, how this was me making it up for this my first Memorial Day I wasn’t able to visit any of my relatives at Jefferson Barracks, (foreshadowing there, I’ll get to it), and of course the low key networking and meeting some extremely important people, let’s just leave it at that, and adding to the fact that my worldview and perspective about the day 75 years ago and history of the matter is rather and substantially different than the typical person in attendance, one thing that occurred to me was that, if you would have told me on June 6, 1994, that, 25 years to the day in the future, that I would be in attendance at that very place I was looking at on that TV that day, in attendance at the 75th anniversary, and also the capacity in which I was there, leaving everything else out, I would have been rather surprised and pleased. Me at 17 couldn’t really fathom what me at 42 is doing.

One thing that struck me about the day and the proceedings themselves was how subdued everything was, compared to what I watched on TV on the 50th, and what I later on watched from the 40th. I think that was just a matter of time and the way of all flesh, that all the remaining living D-Day vets are nonagenarians; An 18-year old in 1944 is 93 years old this year, but figure on some 16 and 17 year olds of the time lying their age upward and the recruiters looking the other way, and 16 in ’44 means 91 this year.  Such as it was, there were D-Day vets there as “young” as 91. And when it comes to first world men in our era, 86 years of age is actuarially speaking where you start living on borrowed time. Since there are so few D-Day and in fact WWII vets remaining, D-Day at 75 was way closer to a history lecture than the reunion atmosphere that, say, 50 and 40 was. Also consider that the world leaders, heads of state and heads of government who were in attendance were born after the end of WWII, so none of them were speaking of an event that they were alive to witness. Emmanuel Macron, who did show up, even though he said about two weeks ago that he wouldn’t, was born in the same year I was. As you know, back in November, I went to Compiègne for the ceremony observing the centennial of the final Armistice of World War I, and what transpired on Thursday felt way more like that than the 40th or 50th D-Day anniversaries. Such as it is, the final WWI veteran, a British woman who served in the women’s auxiliary of the (at the time) fledgling British air force, died in 2012, so there were zero WWI vets alive to observe the Armistice centennial.

***

Paris on Friday, was, well, Paris. Il pleut, il pleut, il pleut. Oh well, at least the pleut held off on the day that really mattered. I only planned to be there that day, not wishing to be there on a Saturday while the yellow vest movement is still a thing. So I saw just the very top level sights, the Eiffel Tower, the Champs-Élysées and all associated with it, the Louvre, Versailles, and (what’s left of) Notre Dame. I hope to go back later to do a deeper dive, but I just wanted to do it in case for some reason I can’t ever go back. With these things, you may only ever get one shot.

***

Got back to Cologne on Saturday, and spent the rest of that day and Sunday packing to head to Wiesbaden for the summer, which I did yesterday, and started rehab today. I told you in a previous post that May 20 was the last day I needed to use the wheelchair, and that was the start of the six month stopwatch. Well, I had a setback this morning, and had it while at my first rehab session, so I couldn’t hide it. I didn’t stay down for long, but unfortunately, what it does is reset the six month stopwatch at zero all over again. Meaning December 11, if I have no more reoccurrences.

I can’t help but think that the setback was as much psychological as much as physical, from what you’re about to read.

***

Now the hard part.

In August, after my father’s funeral, and with me preparing for the trans-Atlantic move, both my only remaining blood uncle and my quasi-uncle (said remaining blood uncle’s ex-wife’s brother, whose house I was living in for most of my recovery, and he’s the one who accompanied me during the summer voyage), came to me at separate instances, and presumably independently of each other, to tell me the same thing: That I should not feel any need or pressure to fly back across the ocean and come back to St. Louis for their funeral, if something happened to either one of them while I was living overseas. Both of them used the exact words: “Don’t come back for me.”

As you know, my American and St. Louis (area code 314) cell phone number is virtual ported to my German cell number, for two reasons: One, to keep my long time 314-xxx-xxxx cell number mine the time if and when I come back home, and two, so that if anyone back home needs to call me, it will not be an international toll or metered call for them, even though it is for me on my end. I was always expecting such texts and calls to be important and decidedly less than good news. And in almost all instances, the caller ID properly transfers internationally, so I can filter the numbers I know and ignore the robocalls, of which I get plenty attempted.

Yesterday, while on the train, the quasi-uncle called me, and after I told him I was still en route, he told me to call him back when I got settled in, because he had something important, but wanted to wait to break it to me until I was no longer on the move.

I suppose by now you can figure out what it was. I knew at the time what it had to be; The only open question was who.  (Even though I knew who it wasn’t).

It was my uncle. It happened on Wednesday. He was 72 years old. Heart attack, preliminary cause. It was actually his second heart attack; He had one in 1998.

My cousin, his only daughter, and in fact, his only child, called him that morning, with no problems, with the intent of stopping by his place later that evening to pick something up and leave something. “His place,” where he lived by himself since he and my aunt divorced, and before that, where they lived together since 1978. It’s where I lived for the first month and a half of recovery, and when I got out of the second hospitalization stint, as I now know because of that matter between Norm and the person who will just be called E., I was not taken back to my uncle’s house after being released then, I was instead taken to my quasi-uncle’s house close to Waterloo. Anyway, my cousin and her husband stopped by Wednesday evening as promised, and found him on the floor lifeless, and called 911.

He was by himself for this the second heart attack, but not so with the first. We’ll forever be left to wonder if he could have gotten help soon enough to save his life if he wasn’t by himself this time.

When the quasi-uncle got done telling me everything, I was going to ask him why he didn’t call me on Wednesday, why he waited so long. But I stopped myself, because I could already figure out the answer before I even asked the question: I already told him (and my uncle, and a few others back in St. Louis), about my D-Day week itinerary, and he didn’t want to spoil it or anything for me. He timed his calling me to when he thought the hustle and bustle of the week was behind me, and when he did, he was almost spot on.

Wednesday was the travel day between Cologne and Bayeux for me. The way I figure now, I probably would have been some kind of way emotionally speaking having to deal with and think about all this, while in the middle of going there then being there for an important anniversary of an important military event and meeting very important people on top of that.  So not telling me right when it happened was the right call.

My uncle himself was a ‘Nam combat vet, so of course the final services will be at Jefferson Barracks, in fact, later this week. He will now be my fifth male vet relative to be at JB, joining my eldest aunt’s husband (November 1988), my mother’s mother’s youngest brother (November 2012), my elder uncle (July 2013), and my father (August 2018).

I was told that, in the early days of my recovery, during the time of my brain being in a zombie state, I could spout my uncle’s land line phone number easily, but not my own cell number at all. Only because he had it and lived in that house since the year after I was born, meaning that phone number was one of the very first I was made to memorize starting from the earliest of my ability to know what phone numbers are and in turn memorize them. My ability to recite my uncle’s landline but not my cell was a matter of the longest-implanted memories being the ones that were available for my at the time very limited cognition, or the memories that I had attained relatively recently were the ones that weren’t occurring to me. Which is the way it is for most TBI cases. You’ll remember that when I returned to blogging after returning to functional coherence in the middle of November 2017, that some of your screen names and real names (in the cases of those of you who use your real names) were unfamiliar to me, and that it took another two months for most of my short term memory to lock back into place. To this day, I know that not all of my pre-accident short term memory has come back, and it probably never will.

In principle, I could fly back to St. Louis and be there at the funeral. But I also know that it was also the last request he ever made of me to my face and in direct terms: “Don’t come back for me.” He knew what you all know, that I was going to D-Day then after getting back, turning right around to live in a different city for the summer to do rehab. He would not want me breaking or interrupting rehab to come back for him. Especially since he was critically involved in the first month and a half of my recovery, and importantly involved in other ways after that. He’s one of the last people who would want me not to see this rehab through properly and diligently just for his own sake.

Such as it is, the very house in which he left this world is technically my legal St. Louis and American address, for the purposes of official residence. How that came to be was something I wrote here in the spring of last year, that my Richmond Heights apartment lease was up on March 1, 2018, but it would not be for another half a month that it was medically safe to leave me by myself, so it made no sense to renew the lease, to keep on paying rent drawing down on my nest egg for a place I wouldn’t be able to live in or use. But at the same time I had to keep a Missouri address for my Missouri CCW permit and drivers’ license, even though I was living with the quasi-uncle near Waterloo (note to dummies: It’s in Illinois) for close to six months by then. So I used my uncle’s house. Since that house will most likely be sold in the coming months to years, I’m eventually going to have to talk with my lawyer back in St. Louis about my options in that stead. The people who eventually buy that house won’t want mail for an expatriated nephew of the guy who died inside of it to keep coming to them. I’m going to miss that house, because it was sorta my second home all throughout my childhood, and it’s where I would have lived permanently if (G.F.) something would have happened to my mother during my childhood, and such as it is, I actually did live there for brief periods when my mother was hospitalized during the few times she was during my childhood.

Not being able to go this funeral is going to hurt, in spite of it all.

***

Bringing things full circle, the summer of 1994, the summer after the 50th, is one where it seemed like I spent half my waking hours in funeral homes and cemeteries. That was a bad summer for relatives and quasi-relatives dying. It was also a summer of transition for me personally in a lot of other ways. I wrote above that me on June 6, 1994 couldn’t grok that me of June 6, 2019 is doing what I’m doing, but by the end of that summer, I could have.

I suppose the theme of the last week for me was sacrifice, both the ones I have made to chase my dreams, and the ones others made a long time ago supposedly to save the world.

When they say “sacrifice,” they mean it. It’s not just some idle word.

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Critical Week Ahead of a Critical Summer Ahead

3 06 2019

Your Blogmeister’s German Desk

One year ago today, my feet touched German and European soil for the first time.

As you all know, the occasion for that was supposed to be just a month and a half of vacationing and sightseeing and ancestry chasing.

Little did I know that, while in the process of doing that, I would accidentally and unwittingly talk myself into a job, which brought be back to this country a month and a half after the conclusion of said vacation.

As for the the other side of the past-present continuum, I pack tomorrow, travel Wednesday, for what I expect to be one of the heaviest days of my life on Thursday.  Light sightseeing in Paris on Friday, return here on Saturday, and I’ll spend the rest of that day and Sunday packing, to head upstream to Wiesbaden a week from today to start another German summer, and the most critical six months or so of my middle age.

Speaking of summer, while spring here in Cologne and The Region was hard to start, a taste of summer broke out yesterday, with a high of 90 degrees.  That was hotter than at any time and place that I experienced during the vacation last year, that being 84 degrees.  Of course, I came back here after Labor Day, and by then, summer broke, so nowhere near 84 degrees since then, until yesterday.

Note:  To my biggest fan, if you’re reading this, please e-mail me.  I’ve been dog whistling for you to do that for about a minute.





Topping Gillette’s Stupidity

15 05 2019

Hamburg

I don’t have to buy that much food for myself, because I’m on the German equivalent of the rubber chicken circuit, except the grub is a hell of a lot better. Someone is always shoving free food under my snoot. 

Which is a good thing, because overall, by my estimation, controlling for portion size, converting metric portion sizes into customary, and converting prices in Euros to Dollars, groceries in Germany are about 40% more expensive than they are in the United States.  Realizing that Germany has the lowest grocery store type food prices in Western Europe.

What little I have to buy and buy from a box-type store, I use Kaufland, which is the upscale marquee for Lidl, and Lidl is the “other” Aldi in Germany, and in fact, Lidl expanded into the United States about two years ago.

That said, if I ever had a notion to go to Edeka, I don’t now.

Edeka, headquarters in Hamburg…of course.  The open air insane asylum of Germany.

While it’s easy for you to see what’s going on with this without me needing to translate, I’ll do it below.

VIDEO TITLE: We Say Thank You

Thank you.

Thank you for always being there for me.

You take care of me.

You have an intuition for the right moment.

I can always tell you everything.

And you always listen to me.

You are my role model and you support me however you can.

Thank you, that you are so beautiful.

And that you have such tact.

Mom, thanks for not being Dad.





Who-ber Alles?

10 05 2019

Erfurt

A nontroversy in this country over the past week has now become an international nontroversy today.

It’s this bit about a new German national anthem.

All a PR stunt on the part of a politician of a dying party who knows his party is dying and also that he’s on his way out the door after the Thuringian state elections in October.  Bodo Ramelow, the Premier of Thuringia, on the Die Linke (“The Left”) Party, that is.  A last dying gasp at mattering.

In fact, this fall, three states in the former East Germany hold state elections, where the AfD is expected to make very big gains:  Brandenburg (September 1), capital Potsdam, it’s the state that surrounds Berlin, and both Thuringia and Saxony on October 27.  in Saxony (Dresden the capital), the AfD is widely expected to finish in first place, and has an outside chance to do so with an absolute majority.  Saxony is of course the AfD’s strongest state, it finished in first place in the 2017 Federals.

After the events of the approximate year between October 7, 1989 and October 3, 1990, which I’ve written about here in recent times, the East German Socialist Unity Party suddenly became unpopular, you know, because reasons, and some of its people rebooted around democratic socialism, and formed Die Linke.  Along with it, they rebooted Neues Deutschland (“New Germany”), which was to East Germany what Pravda was to the Soviet Union, to a democratic socialist editorial bent, under the tutelage of Die Linke.   ND is still being published to this day.

So, ideologically speaking, they left the communism behind, but not the anti-nationalism.  Which, other than the fact that this is all a publicity stunt, a last chance that a politically dying politician has to make an impact on the world, anti-nationalism is the ideology which informs his demand.

A demand that next to nobody is taking seriously.

The whole irony is that the current official lyrics of “Das Lied der Deutschen” (informally:  “Deutschland Uber Alles”) has been watered down after the outcome of 1945.  For instance, it’s considered bad form to sing “Uber alles in die welt” (“Over everything in the world”), because Germans are supposed to feel guilt over Mustache Man Bad making Germany uber Poland, uber Czechoslovakia, uber Austria, uber The Netherlands, uber a good chunk of Russia, and so on.  So to me, to ditch the currently already neutered already social justice-y German national anthem because social justice seems like buying the cow when you’re already getting the milk for free.





Ramadamadingdong

6 05 2019

Your Blogmeister’s German Desk

For the first time in my life, I am spending Ramadan surrounded by many of the demographic that observes Ramadan.  And this is a time of the year which they are especially peaceful, which means I’m keeping all my senses dialed up to maximum sensitivity.

Needless to say, I have only one mass public outdoor event on my schedule for the next month, and it’s not even in Germany, it’s weekend after next in Milan.  Which will mean stamping Italy on my passport.  Maybe next summer I’ll do a grand tour of Italy, especially Rome northward.  But for now, it’s all business and light sightseeing.

Otherwise, rock out.





“Problemfeldern der Gesellschaft” (Patterson’s First Axiom Sighting in Germany)

3 05 2019

Duisburg

I’ll translate and net it out:

ZOMG A DUISBURG COP CAR HAD AN IDENTITARIAN MOVEMENT SHIRT BUTTON INSIDE LOL~!!!!1!!1

But here’s the money quote:

Es ist klar, dass Polizisten, die tagtäglich mit den Problemfeldern der Gesellschaft zu tun haben, für solche Dinge empfänglich sind.

Which translates to:

It’s clear that police officers who deal with the problem areas of society on a daily basis are susceptible to such things.

It’s Patterson’s First Axiom.

What do you think is going to happen to a young white rookie on the St. Louis City Police Department who is given a beat along Natural Bridge?

Likewise, a real German who becomes a cop in Duisburg who doesn’t become an identitarian or some rough equivalent has to be a phlarking moron.

Duisburg has all of current year Germany’s mystery meat vibrancy in one place, but the most ostentatious group are the Gypsies (Roma).  A group that Americans have almost zero direct experience with.  But everything I’ve ever heard about them…well, let’s just say their reputation is well earned, and a little bit more.  Otherwise, Duisburg is the last consummately industrial city here in The Region, (save Leverkusen, a Bayer company town), which had an industrial reputation for a very long time, but most of the cities in it have been transitioning to post-industrial in the last few decades.  Add the two together, and you can figure it’s not a pleasant place to live.

And a headache to police.

Note:  Colloquially, in both the German and non-German media, the forces are referred to with the moniker of the city they serve, in this instance, the “Duisburger Police.”  However, law enforcement in Germany is a state function at the ground level, not a municipal function.  The agency is the North Rhine-Westphalia State Police, and it has a number of divisions (constabularies) corresponding to either a given city or a given large swath of a rural area.  What it means is that, from a powerology perspective, the power routes from the democratic imperative into the actual elected state government, and from there it routes into senior police officials, then in a Weberian sense down through the department ranks.

Germany has absolutely nothing like American style county sheriffs, and from my reading of German history, has never.  So much so that the German language(s) never developed a word to describe the concept;  Modern German merely appropriates the English language word “sheriff,” and almost all the time its usage relates to American crime stories, news, documentaries, histories.





Getting High

22 04 2019

Your Blogmeister’s German Desk

First off, I’ll be burning my two ended candle at three ends from now until the weekend after D-Day.  The main attractions will be the 75th anniversary of D-Day itself, and the MEP elections on May 26.

So, expect my blog and social postings to be pretty sparse for the while.

***

Now, for the main attraction.

I’m testing out my powers of inference and implication, and my ability to formulate theories.

I have come to notice that the language that is called Hochdeutsch (“High German”), aka textbook German, is in terms of accent and dialect pretty much on par with the way German is spoken in the modern day state of Schweig-Holstein and surrounding areas.

What it means is that, some point in the past, German(ic) society(-ies) and/or elites somehow came to either a deliberate decision or a cultural consensus that the dialect and accent of Schweig-Holstein and the former names of that region are more proper or better, and that the entire German speaking world should be standardized around it.

I’m asking myself:  Why?

I have come up with two theories, one bad, and one probable.

(1)  Prussia.  The Prussian state was the spine of the first attempt at a unitary unified German nation-state, the German Empire.  And Prussia, at the time and at its peak of territorial control, included S-H.

The problem with that theory is that Prussia also included a lot more than modern day S-H.  And its center of power was Prussia’s own capital, Berlin, which is why Berlin became the capital of a unified Germany, and that continued through the Weimar Republic, the Third Reich, partially during the Wall and Curtain Days, and once again in the Reunification Era.  By all geographical rights, a city that big has no business being where it is.  But it’s there, believe me, it’s there.

What that means is that Prussia contained a lot of dialects and accents.  Therefore, if High German had anything to do with Prussian swag, it would have probably been the case that German spoken in and around Berlin would have been the model for language standardization.

But I think there’s a better, older, more deeply rooted explanation:

(2)  The Hanseatic League.  The areas along and close to the North and Baltic sea coasts, including modern day S-H, were Hanseatic territory for the longest among all the territory that would eventually become one version or another of a unified Germany.  And the League’s territories were, as you could probably guess, way more prosperous than anywhere else in what would eventually become Germany.  Which probably means that dialects and accents in Hanseatic territory eventually got a reputation as being “better than” the others.  If you wanted in on any chance of making a career or fortune from Hanseatic commerce, you had to learn their particular dialect.

So you can probably see that over the centuries, even after the League dissipated and, as the young folks today say, was no longer A Thing, that this left a cultural imprint on Germanic peoples.  Forget about the ongoing legacy of slavery, how about about the ongoing legacy of a trade and commercial league whose power peaked in the fifteenth century.

The ongoing legacy also manifested in terms of wealth.  As one of many examples, Heinrich Hertz, a pioneer of radio science, had enough of a personal fortune as late as the second half of the nineteenth century, because he was an heir to a rich Hanseatic family.  Remember, by that time, the League had been pretty much extinct for about two hundred years.  Yet and still, even after two centuries of anyone being able to make any serious fortunes from it, its prominent families still had enough to will down comfortable living amounts to people of that generation.  Hertz, for his part, was born in Hamburg, which was a prominent HL city, and to this day, it (and nearby Bremen) both call themselves “Free Hanseatic Cities,” even though they’re just Federal states like the thirteen current others.  Other cities along and near the North and Baltic seas and even ones inland in the general region call themselves Hanseatic Cities, and proclaim such on, among other things, the orange city limits signs as you come into town.  Another clue to the League’s legacy is something I’ve now used three times:  Lufthansa.  Based here in Cologne, a city which was part of the League at its peak.

***

I will eventually do the research to find out whether my theories are true.  However, I’m not going to do it right away;  I have my reasons for holding off.  So if you happen to know, don’t spoil it for me in the comment section.